Cape Town - It’s an industry joke that you can’t do business in “Slaapstad” on a Friday after 3pm. But Tim Harris, the City of Cape Town’s new head of investment, says Cape Town can still be “cool” and stick to stricter work hours.
“I believe we need to work harder on professionalising the culture of work in Cape Town to show that we are a city that is serious about business,” Harris said.
“It is possible to be creative and innovative, but still host a tight seminar that runs on time. It is possible to be a cool, lifestyle city and work later than 3pm on a Friday.”
Harris told delegates of the annual “City meets Business” symposium that Cape Town’s “cool” factor could be a drawcard for companies looking for competitive advantages in design and creativity, but it should not be a barrier to new investment.
Harris, who will split his time between the mayor’s office and Wesgro, said Cape Town was not yet achieving its potential as an African city. It needed to position itself as the best place for a company to establish its African headquarters.
The city had “a lot to put on the table” when it came to attracting new investment. Its recently-launched investment incentives policy would reduce risk in certain geographic areas.
Belinda Walker, mayoral committee member for community services, said incentives in Atlantis, the pilot area for the policy, were doing well to drive economic growth and about 50 companies were taking advantage of the city’s reduced rates or waived fees.
This had already led to R500 million in new industry investment.
The city waived development contribution fees for investors in Atlantis and mixed-use electricity tariffs were capped at 2012 rates to encourage business. Companies could tap into the city’s free broadband network if they were within 300m of it.
“We are hoping to do this with Philippi and also in the East City with the creative industries,” Walker said.
In a report submitted to the council, Stanley Visser of economic development said the electricity tariff subsidy was significant, but it did more to retain business than create jobs in the area.
But the investment by Gestamp Wind Steel to establish a wind turbine factory would bring in R300m to the area and create 22 jobs.
Mayor Patricia de Lille said the city was “at an advanced stage” of its fixed-asset planning.
“We have already identified provisional city assets in terms of land and facilities that we want to dispose of. While I cannot go into the details now, I urge you to watch out for some exciting city prospects that will be coming on to the market soon,” she said.
The future of several city assets will be considered at Tuesday’s mayoral committee meeting, including the lease of a portion of council land in Simon’s Town to the False Bay Yacht Club.
Harris said despite Cape Town’s advantages, the city would only prosper if there was an environment where businesses could thrive.
“Poverty will remain unless we can create jobs, and unemployment will remain unless more entrepreneurs and business people decide that Cape Town is a good place to start and grow their businesses.”